Thursday, May 10, 2007

Aerial Photography

So, you know those satellite maps that they have on the Web now? Looking at the place where I grew up on one of those maps was a strange experience. (Yes, I'm easily astonished.) Tracing the road from the nearest town to our house . . . I remember that road, not every bit of it, but some parts in better detail than the map can reveal. I still dream about that road.

Aerial photography shows the trees and rivers, but not the topography, so much. It shows the roads that led to friends' houses, and the side roads that I never got a chance to go down. The unknown roads that concealed some magic place right around the corner. (Satellites can't see those secret places, of course.)

It must show the lake that we went to, but it can't show the excitement of those summer evenings, or the humidity. Or the frogs. It shows where the river runs alongside the road, but it can't show what I remember, one particular bend of the river and the light coming through the trees. Perhaps the water was unusually high? For some reason it has stayed with me. Maybe it was a dream.

It can't show the road from my vantage point, the back of our old pickup.

And yet, it astonishes me that the road of my memory has its counterpart in the real world. No, I don't expect it to still be the same (although I bet it hasn't changed all that much.) Just the fact that it's real is enough. Not to mention the fact that the Internet knows where I lived. I can type in the name of that dead-end dirt road and it pops right up. A map of Nowhere. A real place. As real as my dreams.

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